Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, is calling for tougher sentences for those found guilty of dog thefts.
Over the last year, as we are all spending more time at home, the demand for dogs as pets has hugely increased along with the price. Some puppies can cost as much as £3,000 making them an attractive target for organised crime gangs. Dog Lost, the UK's largest lost and found dog service, estimates that thefts have risen by 250% in the last year.
Matthew Barber, said:
“Pets are more than just property, they become part of your family. As a dog owner myself I am hugely concerned by the rise in dog thefts and the terrible trade in stolen animals. We all have a role to play by ensuring our animals are microchipped and only buying from registered breeders. Dog thefts are often committed by organised crime gangs and the police need to tackle these gangs and eliminate this crime.”
It is important that the police recognise this is a matter of serious organised crime and many of the thefts are a result of criminal gangs. The Theft Act currently allows a sentence of up to 7 years, but the majority of prison sentences for pet thefts are less than six months or even just a fine. I am calling on the Government to review the sentencing guidelines to allow the courts to impose tougher penalties on those found guilty of this awful crime which can have such a terrible effect on families.
You can find out more about My Plan to tackle dog thefts and sign up to support my campaign at matthewbarber.co.uk/dogthefts.